Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Music An instrumental composition intended especially as an introduction to an extended work, such as an opera or oratorio.
  • n. Music A similar orchestral work intended for independent concert performance.
  • n. An introductory section or part, as of a poem; a prelude.
  • n. An act, offer, or proposal that indicates readiness to undertake a course of action or open a relationship.
  • transitive v. To present as an introduction or proposal.
  • transitive v. To present or make an offer or proposal to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • An opening or aperture; a recess; a chamber.
  • Disclosure; discovery; revelation.
  • A proposal; an offer; a proposition formally submitted for consideration, acceptance, or rejection.
  • A composition, for a full orchestra, designed as an introduction to an oratorio, opera, or ballet, or as an independent piece; -- called in the latter case a concert overture.
  • transitive v. To make an overture to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An opening; an aperture; a hole.
  • n. An open place.
  • n. Opening; disclosure; discovery.
  • n. In music, an orchestral movement properly serving as a prelude or introduction to an extended work, as an opera or oratorio.
  • n. Something offered to open the way to some conclusion; something proposed for acceptance or rejection; a proposal: as, to make overtures of peace.
  • n. Specifically Eccles., in Presbyterian church law, a formal proposal submitted to an ecclesiastical court.
  • n. Synonyms Proposition, etc. See proposal.
  • Eccles., to submit an overture to. See overture, n., 6.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a tentative suggestion designed to elicit the reactions of others
  • n. orchestral music played at the beginning of an opera or oratorio
  • n. something that serves as a preceding event or introduces what follows

Etymologies

Middle English, opening, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *ōpertūra, alteration (influenced by Latin cōperīre, to cover) of Latin apertūra, from apertus, past participle of aperīre, to open.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman, Middle French overture, from Old French overture. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • William Tell overture is not "from the soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange", it is a piece of classical music composed by Rossini.

    Matt’s Top 10 Trailers of 2009 – Collider.com

  • Whether Syria's peace overture is rhetorical or real, there is no better time to put Damascus to the test.

    Alon Ben-Meir: Syria Reasserts Its Centrality to Peace

  • By the 18th century, composers were calling the overture to an opera, or an oratorio, the "sinfonia".

    How the great symphonies became our soundtrack to a changing world

  • This overture is still old politics, which some will embrace whole heartedly.

    McCain team reaches out to disappointed Clinton backers

  • Seligman likes charm a lot, I'm glad to say, and he knows well enough that this cunning overture is politely blind to the fact that neither of his ladies asked to have this contest arranged.

    Odd Couple

  • ZAHN: Is that something the U.S. would welcome, this overture from the Germans?

    CNN Transcript Sep 24, 2002

  • The "overture" - the missionary's initial bonding with Muslims via discussion of the Koran - is precision-engineered to undermine their allegiance to Islam.

    GetReligion

  • Although thick with irony -- President Reagan first proposed a missile shield in 1983 as a safeguard against the Soviets -- the overture was a clear attempt to ease Kremlin concerns that the antimissile system is targeted at Russia.

    Reaching Out to Russia

  • " What people might not realize when they hear the overture, which is so very famous, is that Tchaikovsky cut the legs of the orchestra off, " he said.

    Saving

  • A popular choice is to start a concert with a short "curtain-raiser," such as an overture, which is often followed by a concerto with a star soloist, and then after an intermission, the "large" symphonic piece is played.

    Four Almost-The-Last Songs

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